Captain Glen Beierle and another firefighter hold off the section of West Bench Hill Road Thursday afternoon after a landslide closed the road. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

UPDATED: Likely hours before West Bench road opens after slide

Landslide reported at West Bench Drive and Highway 97

UPDATE: 1:46 p.m.

Penticton firefighters expect it will take more than a couple of hours to clean up West Bench Hill Road after it was closed due to a landslide.

The landslide is about 100 metres in width, and several feet deep at its deepest point, extending slightly past the yellow line in the middle of the road.

Argo Road Maintenance is on site, but Captain Glen Beierle said it would likely be a fair bit longer than a couple of hours to clean up.

He said due to instability in the hillside, a geotechnical engineer would likely need to be called in and some of the unstable chunks of land knocked down from the hill.

“We’re just going to keep the area secure until the highways deal with this,” he said, referring to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“With all the rain and stuff we’ve had, it could be (a risk for more landslides).”

Despite fire crews blocking the road off, a driver in a camper continued to drive through the road.

“That’s a thing that happens, right? People don’t get it. People are looking at the slide and the blinking lights and not paying attention,” deputy fire chief Denis Smith said, adding it is a safety concern.

“We’re aware of people don’t always do the right thing, and we’re as prepared as we can get for that. We’re watching them. We know they’re not watching us.”

—-

ORIGINAL: 12:59 p.m.

A landslide at West Bench Hill Road has closed the two lanes of traffic.

Emergency services were called out around 12:45 p.m. on Thursday. There are no injuries reported.

A detour has been set up at Sage Mesa Drive and Highway 97.

Argo Road Maintenance is on site. Firefighters estimate it will take a couple of hours to clean up.

This story will be updated as more information comes in from our reporter on the scene.

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